Juliet Dryden presenting at the BISA climate simulation 2024

Into 2024 - A message from our Director/CEO

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Happy New Year to you all. With 2023 now behind us, let me start the new year by conveying a message of hope and optimism that a way can be found to secure a peaceful and prosperous 2024 in all the troubled areas of the world.

Here at BISA, the team have returned with renewed passion and energy for an exciting and full year ahead, having seen a significant uptake in our research and professional development activities in the last quarter of 2023. As the go-to association for International Studies experts and those with an interest in international politics and keeping up with the latest trends in the discipline, I am delighted that our membership numbers continue to rise - with particular growth among postgraduate and global scholar categories.

This is down, in part, to the record number of virtual and in-person events and activities that our dedicated working group conveners and Postgraduate Network have organised across the academic year, the exceptionally high number of participants at our annual conference, and the high standard of research published in our world-renowned journals, Review of International Studies and the European Journal of International Security, as well as our book series.

On top of this, we continue our campaign in defence of the social sciences (and international studies within this) by building and strengthening coalitions within the Academy of Social Sciences and other key players such as professional associations, learned societies and relevant funders. Late last year we consulted with you on the FRAP process (Future Research Assessment Programme), and were pleased to submit a statement on your behalf. We remain committed to supporting colleagues within the International Studies community and continue to hold regular informal Heads of Department and Heads of Research meetings. We have also launched an EDI Forum for those working on inequalities within their institutions.

2024 will see several new BISA initiatives which are outlined below. In addition, we will continue supporting many of our 33 working groups and Postgraduate Network for online and face-to-face events to promote their research activities. We are committed to providing annual funds through our Early Career Small Research Grants, Learning and Teaching Grants and hardship assistance grants for those in the final stages of their PhD’s through our Founders’ Fund. Nominations for our prestigious 2024 annual prizes, through which we honour outstanding contributions to the discipline in both research and teaching, open on Monday 8 January. There are three new prizes for 2024.

To get the most out of BISA, please can I urge you to renew your membership on time, fully engage with our working groups, journals and PGN, register promptly for our upcoming conference in Birmingham (registration opens later this month), and to support BISA in any other way you can. This includes through volunteering for convenorships as they come up, putting your name forward for the BISA Executive and PGN Committee, and any other initiatives we undertake to promote International Studies. This is your Association and we want to ensure you are rewarded for your commitment to us. Please do spread the word about our activities amongst your networks. You can even take advantage of three months free membership with our referral scheme.  If you are not a member, do please consider joining us. We are open to everyone and have membership discounts for students, ECRs, global scholars and retired members.

What’s on in 2024?

2023 saw 62 events with registration numbers of 2900 which is an all-time high of both members and non-members. This is an incredible accomplishment and I would like to thank all the working group conveners and our PGN team for all the wonderfully interesting events in 2023 and those already in the calendar for 2024. We recognise that your work is entirely voluntarily and, judging from the feedback we receive, there is huge appetite from members and non-members for more events and activities of a similar kind. Some of our 2023 events were recorded and you can find these and more on our YouTube channel.

Our 2024 calendar of events is taking shape with January events including a roundtable on Youth politics in MENA and beyond from the ISMMEA Working Group, a Postgraduate work-in-progress workshop from the Africa and International Studies Working Group and Perspectives from the Global South on Russia’s war in Ukraine from the Russia and Eurasian Security Working Group.

This quarter we will also be holding another BISA/FCDO Model NATO event on 6 March. We had a record number of universities sign up and we’ll be letting those who have been successful know next week. Additionally, we will have a new exciting series of undergraduate online lectures starting next month on a whole variety of topics, both research and development, given by and for our members. Please look out for more details on this in the next few weeks. Finally, if you are going to ISA2024 in April, please do look out for BISA-sponsored panels and our annual reception promoting our journals and book series.

New initiatives

As well as the new undergraduate online events mentioned above, in 2024 we are offering three new prizes, including one in collaboration with the British Council called New Voices in Cultural Relations. This is for a Master’s dissertation which brings new scholarly insight. We have also collaborated with Shepherd, a book discovery website where authors and experts share their top five reads.

For more information on what’s on in 2024, including our new initiatives please do look at our website.

#BISA2024 in Birmingham

The BISA annual calendar would not be complete without our annual conference, which this year will be held in Birmingham from 5 – 7 June. Conference Chair, Dr Nick Caddick, the University of Birmingham conference team and BISA colleagues are busy planning a critically engaging and stimulating programme of panels and roundtables under the title ‘Whose International Studies?’. It is a wonderful opportunity for you all to meet new connections, reconnect with old friends and colleagues, share your research and learn about what others have been doing.

In addition to three days of over 250 in person panels and roundtables, we have our keynote from Professor Tarak Barkawi on 'War and World Politics: or why I stopped doing IR’, as well as a programme of fringe activities built around the conference. These include a full day of professional development workshops for postgraduate, early-career researchers and mid-career academics on 4 June, a public lecture on ‘Can foreign policy of democratic states arrest the global decline of democracy?’, an evening on ‘The Anglo-American special relationship and the 2024 UK-US Elections’ sponsored by the University of Birmingham and the Foreign Policy Centre London, a lunchtime talk on the Birmingham Blitz during WW2,  the ever popular 'Meet the editors', an 'Introduction to book publishing' and of course the annual BISA reception at the Birmingham Library, only minutes away from the conference venues. Many more events are still to be confirmed!

Registration will open later in January so please sign up to secure your place as soon as you receive our conference email, whether you are on a panel/roundtable or not. We welcome members and non-members.

Journals

We have two new editorial teams for our journals - Review of International Studies and the European Journal of International Security who start this month. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the old teams and welcome the new ones. They will be busy putting together new editions with the support of our publishers, Cambridge University Press. Our video abstracts will continue alongside articles throughout 2024, and there is already a special issue virtual event planned for Thursday 29 February. Please save the date.

Thank you

I know that many of you would like to join me in thanking the BISA trustees and staff team for all the work they do on behalf of the Association. Without the dedication of both, we would not be able to support the community of International Studies scholarship in the way we do. If you have any additional suggestions of how we can improve BISA to serve our membership better, please do get in touch with me at Juliet.dryden@bisa.ac.uk. I would be very happy to hear from you.

With best wishes
 
Juliet Dryden
Director/CEO